In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I was trying to get through California, Arizona, and New Mexico as quickly as possible so that I could have some time to explore Texas. So let’s do that!
Day 3 – November 9th, 2019 – Las Cruces, New Mexico to Sonora, Texas: ~480 miles
Missed Day 2? November 8th, 2019 – Blythe, California to Las Cruces, New Mexico: ~540 miles
My first planned stop was the Border Patrol Museum, a privately owned 501(c)3 which is the only museum focused on the Border Patrol in the country. I was told to check it out as they supposedly had a couple of motorcycles inside…
…but the cool vehicles started on the outside, such as this Ford Bronco which served out of San Diego. A plaque nearby says that “this vehicle is dedicated to the men and women of the United States Border Patrol. They have ‘held the line’ since 1924.”
About half of the museum is dedicated to the vehicles of the Border Patrol, and it’s not just from the southern border. This Ski-Doo Citation served out of Houlton, Maine from March 1983 to November of 1994.
Obviously, we have to talk about that Firebird in the background. It was part of a project that the Border Patrol called “Project Roadrunner” – the idea was that they’d have “increased safety through fewer and shorter pursuits“, which is a great cover for “we want to goof around with fast cars.”
The official description was “Each fraction of a mile you reduce a “pursuit” greatly reduces the danger to the travelling public, persons in the suspect vehicle, and our agents. We are finding that fewer people attempt to outrun an agent driving one of these cars. We are finding that most who do, are overtake in a much shorter distance than with our standard four door sedans. We also acknowledge that some suspects refuse to stop regardless.”
The project evaluated a Ford Mustang LX, Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z28, and two Pontiac Firebird Formula 350s. The department noticed that “this dramatic departure from the standard patrol units has generated a great deal of media and public interest“, saying that “improved agency image [was] an unanticipated benefit.” The museum also mentions that this car was tested in an issue of Motor Trend, but I wasn’t able to find an article online. The Firebird was restored in 2007, and the Mustang is sitting at the Border Patrol Station in Lordsburg, New Mexico, waiting to be restored as well. Looks like GreenLight made a diecast version of this car, as well.
The other side of the museum had a fascinating exhibit about the different ways that smugglers try to beat the Border Patrol. This cart was found by an agent on 9/2007 underneath the bridge that crosses into El Paso. “The cart spanned one set of girders underneath the south bound lanes of the port of entry. The cart was used to smuggle contraband and undocumented aliens into the United States.” The cart was attached to a rope so it could be pulled back and forth.
A sign at the exhibit says that you should note a few refinements, though these are “homemade”:
I got back on the V85 TT, thankful that it did indeed have lights and a suspension, and continued on to Van Horn. My hope was to get lunch at a wonderful hotel I discovered on a road trip last year for some pistachio-fried steak. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn’t open until 5pm, so I just skipped lunch and ditched the freeway for the red road to Marfa.
Marfa is an interesting artsy community that I would gladly go back to for a long weekend. One of the more unexpected parts of town (actually, 25 miles outside of town) is Prada Marfa, a tiny replica of a Prada store filled with items from the fall 2005 collection. The night it opened, someone broke in, stole all the content, and spray painted phrases like “Dumb” and “Dum Dum” on the sides.
Many people bring back souvenirs from trips, like a magnet or a shot glass. When I hit the road, Vy just asks me to bring back a bag of chips that she can’t get at home. This trip’s bounty was a bag of “Rancheritos”, but Vy hasn’t tried it yet so I have nothing to report on how they taste. However, I can report that I was able to bring them back easily, as the Guzzi has some pretty decent bags.
LUGGAGEAs a reminder, the base bike does not come with standard luggage, while the Adventure comes standard with aluminum side bags (top loaders) and a trunk. In addition, the “Travel’ version that was just announced gets plastic/aluminum side bags that are side loading. While Guzzi provided me with a base bike, they also gave me a set of the top-loading side bags. I paired them with my favorite tail bag (for quick swapping between test bikes) for some “just in case” space – who knows how many bags of chips I’d have to bring back to Vy? For those of you that are curious, the tail bag is a VERY old and outdated version of Chase Harper’s 4250 Deluxe Hideaway Tail Trunk
I actually have to bring the tail bag with me on most of my long road trips because most OEM luggage boxes cannot fit the 15+” laptop I use for my day job so I have to lay it down horizontally in the tail bag if I don’t want to carry it in a backpack for 3,000 miles. The Guzzi was able to swallow the laptop (with a case) at an angle, which I was impressed by. The right bag stores 39 liters while the left stores 33 (there’s a cutout for the exhaust).
The bags are made by MyTech, who officially get my award for stupidest logo design. It took me 5 minutes to figure out what this company was called, because I figured it had to be 3Y:
While the logo is stupid, the bags themselves are good! As I was traveling for a conference, I had to take dress shoes, several dress shirts/slacks/socks and some other work items in addition to the usual stuff that one takes on a road trip. The cases handled everything with ease – I only used the tail bag because I had it, not because I needed it. Plus the tail bag just makes it easier to mount Baby Jack to something so he can enjoy the middle of nowhere in Texas.
The mounting system is secure and I always felt confident that the bags were locked in place. An annoyance is that the bags are not keyed to the ignition, so you’ll always have two keys with you. To pull the bags off the bike, insert/turn the key and then pull the red tab up. Like almost every top-loading bag, there’s no handle so you’ll only be able to carry one at a time to your room or campsite.
Also like most top-loading ADV bags, these add a bit of width to the V85 TT. That’s just the name of the game, though it does stick out quite a bit on the right side.
I did not encounter heavy rain on my trip, though I did ride through a few torrential downpours here in LA over the last couple of days and the bags did not let any water in. I have no experience with the top box and I don’t know how the new bags on the Travel model will be, but I was quite happy with the aluminum panniers that are standard on the Adventure model.
When I asked for suggestions on things to see, Ray S. said I should get a photo with Paisano Pete in Fort Stockton. This one’s for Ray!
I stopped at a place called The Hitchin’ Post in Ozona as Yelp reviews suggested they had some amazing chicken fried steak. I know I’m in the heart of Texas when I’m surrounded by pickup trucks.
The service took forever and it was the kind of establishment where you have to be a member to buy alcohol. I wasn’t excited about paying $5 or so to become a member just to order one beer, so I stuck to sipping water while waiting too long for my food. The food looked good, but it was disappointingly bland, and that was doubly disappointing as I didn’t get the chance to enjoy the pistachio-fried steak I was hoping for at lunch. As Nathan says when he’s complaining about something that’s nto very serious, “life is pain.”
I called it a night in Sonora, Texas and decided to be proactive by getting gas before going to bed instead of leaving it for my future self to do tomorrow. I was rewarded with my first sighting of a Mahindra Roxor in the wild, though it was on a trailer. I first saw the Roxor at AIMExpo in 2018, but I’ve been to see one in public. I really like these things, though it’s a hug bummer that they’re not street legal so they’re basically destined for farm/ranch work or trail fun. Mahindra used to assemble Jeeps under license from Willys, and they basically never stopped. As you might have guessed, Jeep isn’t particularly excited about this, and a federal judge just ruled this week that the Roxor infringes upon some key Jeep design features and it may lead to a stop sale.
The gas log continues:
1. Banning, CA
2. Blythe, CA
3. Casa Grande, AZ
4. Willcox, AZ
5. Deming, NM
6. Fort Hancock, TX
7. Alpine, TX
8. Ozona, TX
9. Fredericksburg, TX
10. Selma, TX
11. Sonora, TX
Tomorrow: more Texas!
Day 4 – November 10th, 2019 – Sonora, Texas to Austin, Texas: ~200 miles